12 Attractions You Must Not Miss in NYC
So, you’ve made it to New York! There’s so much to see and so much to do. Besides Times Square, it seems there is never a definite answer as to where exactly your time should be spent in this massive urban jungle. Is it worth it to see this? Do I have time for that? These questions are difficult for any traveler to answer, but especially here in New York. Even so, to make your planning just a little bit easier, here are 12 attractions that you absolutely must see when you visit New York City.
1. Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
Without any doubt the Statue of Liberty is the greatest and most popular symbol of New York, and also one of the most famous symbols of America. Ellis Island, too, is a great symbol of our nation, as almost half of Americans can trace their ancestry back to this one island. There are many options for viewing the statue from the harbor, but taking the time to physically go to the island, visit the museum and climb the pedestal is definitely worth it. Both islands have a unique experience to offer, one that you must discover yourself.
2. Observation Deck: Empire State, Top of the Rock, One World
No matter which one you choose, you’ll be guaranteed an amazing view and an unforgettable experience. Doing all 3 isn’t worth the time and money, so choose 1 and take lots of pictures! Each has its own benefits. Empire State building is undoubtedly the most famous, and a classic. It’s also open the latest, allowing you more flexibility to fit it into your schedule. Top of the Rock is not as tall as Empire, but features clear views of Central Park, pictures that include the Empire State Building, and multiple levels so as to give you more viewing options and not feel so crowded. One World is the newest and tallest of the bunch, and with its downtown location allows views of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty.
3. Central Park
There is nothing that beats a sunny day in Central Park. Definitely save this one for a nicer day, as being stuck in the rain doesn’t allow you to truly enjoy the beauty that is essentially New York’s back yard. Take a stroll through The Ramble, pay tribute at Strawberry Fields, go skating at Wollman Rink, picnic in Sheep’s Meadow…the possibilities are endless. There is no place in New York like Central Park and it’s the perfect spot to loosen up and take a break from the hustle and bustle. Now, while rain might be a hindrance, don’t let the winter season stop you! Central Park in the snow is gorgeous and completely worthwhile.
4. Little Italy and Chinatown
One of the many wonderful things about New York is its diversity and that is what you will experience when you visit these charming, unique and lively neighborhoods. The best part? Two completely different neighborhoods right next door. That’s the beauty of New York is having two equally fascinating, but totally different, neighborhoods within mere blocks of one another. Coming from the Italian tastes of Mulberry, just steps away on Canal is the heart of Chinatown. Little Italy has endless options for delicious Italian cuisine and pastries, as well as numerous annual celebrations that really bring the neighborhood to life. Chinatown is very much its own city within a city- food, shopping, medicine- you’ll find it all!
5. Brooklyn Bridge
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge is an easy, fun adventure and the perfect excuse to visit Brooklyn. The views are unparalleled and the bridge itself is a wonder to experience on its own. For anyone who wants the best views, start off on the Brooklyn side and walk towards Manhattan. It keeps the view in front of you, and starts you off with less crowds and more of an opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery. If the weather is nice, consider taking your stroll as the sun sets and you will see the skyline of Manhattan glitter to life one building at at time.
6. Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York is chock-full of fascinating and historical museums, but the Met is one you must absolutely see. It’s the largest art museum in the United States, the second most visited in the entire world and the permanent collection has over two million works. Its halls are filled to the brim with art and culture from all over the world. Bonus: it’s only steps away from Central Park and the entrance fee is pay-what-you-will, so it won’t break your budget.
7. Grand Central Terminal
Arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in all of New York, Grand Central has come a long way from its opening in 1913. 750,000 people pass through each day, making it one of the biggest and busiest stations in the entire world. It’s size is magnificent, but its beauty is also something to admire. The highlight is the main concourse ceiling, which soars 125 feet above you showcasing a mural of gold-leaf constellations. Be sure to take some time to stop outside, as the facade of the building is equally as beautiful and a stand out among the shiny, modern towers of midtown.
8. The HighLine and Chelsea Market
One of New York’s newest and hottest attractions is tucked away on the west side of Manhattan, winding back and forth along 10th Avenue, soaring 30 feet above ground. The HighLine has only completed construction in the last year, making it a must-see even for locals! Stretching from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District all the way up to 34th Street, the park is built on a former industrial railroad. As you walk up and down the various species of plants, you’ll notice the original tracks themselves snaking in and out of view. At the southern end of the park is the Chelsea Market, a food hall located inside the former Nabisco Factory. As you walk past mouth watering food stands and restaurants you’ll be pulled in by the ambiance and architecture of this one-of-a-kind building.
9. Financial District
Don’t let the name fool you! There is so much more to this neighborhood than just money. Home to the New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, The Charging Ball, Federal Hall National Memorial, Trinity Church and Battery Park, the history here is incomparably richer than any other neighborhood in New York. Stop and grab a bite to eat at Stone Street, an entire block reminiscent of the Dutch architecture that once covered Lower Manhattan. Easily walkable, full of history and home to the beginnings of American Government, the Financial District may just be the highlight of your trip.
Photo Courtesy of (vincent desjardins)
10. 9/11 Memorial
More than any other city in America, the events of September 11th impacted New York with a reverberation that is still felt to this day. But rather than linger on the tragedy of the event, the memorial reflects on our healing and growth as a city following such a terrible day. Entitled “Reflecting Absence,” the memorial pools stand in the footprint of the towers, surrounding the museum on either side. Around the memorial stand all the amazing new buildings that have been created in order to rebuild what was lost. Both peaceful and somber, the memorial is no doubt emotional to encounter but is ultimately a beautiful tribute worth visiting.
11. Broadway Show
There is perhaps nothing more emblematic of New York than the theater district. Home to over 40 Broadway theaters, New York offers one the best collections of live theater in the entire world. Whether it’s a new musical, the latest smash-hit or the long-running classic you will be transported out of your seat and into a new reality with the magic of Broadway. Prices may be steep, but there are ways around it. You can visit the TKTS booth in Times Square or sign up with TodayTix for great discounts on the go!
12. Greenwich Village/SoHo/West Village
You must must must make some time for local New York. These neighborhoods are still very much brimming with life but allow you to experience the real city, the way us locals do every day. It’s the energy of these neighborhoods that really make New York the amazing city that it is. While time may be limited, and you may not get a chance to visit all three, definitely ensure to make at least one of them a stop on your trip. Go shopping in SoHo, see a comedy show in Greenwich or grab a bite in the West Village. Each one of them are unique and fun in their own way, and experiencing local culture is necessary in any good vacation.
Photo Courtesy of Fuzzy Images
If you’re interested in learning more, consider taking a tour with us here at New York Tour 1. We can share with you the history and flavors of many of these places and more!